Freedom 90

On Saturday, it became apparent that one of my vanity e-mail addresses had stopped working. There may have been some quite important email that has vanished, but I will never really know the cost, and it is far too late to worry. What this prompted was a long, hard look at what happens to my email and what is merited as ‘important’. It transpires I have ten e-mail addresses, gathered across the years. At no point have I ever deleted a message on at least three of them.

The rest of the day was spent sorting out the chaos that lack of activity had produced.

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In the end, 25,000 messages were trashed. This includes mails sent when my first ever Gmail account was created, back in 2005. The vast bulk of rubbish was acknowledgements from sites such as Twitter, or online forum which I belonged to, that simply never got dealt with at the time. It took a couple of hours, but the effort was more than worthwhile, and it allowed me to see exactly what account was getting what trash mail. The long-term benefit is that the actual volume of mail into my Mac (which collects from all the Gmail accounts and the vanity domain addresses) has been reduced by over 80%. Using the GDPR fiasco to unsubscribe from multiple newsletters and online gumph that’s no longer needed, it’s like the last thirteen years of bollocks into my Inbox never existed.

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Needless to say, it’s a little embarrassing that it took my own stupidity to kick-start the action, but now that’s done, there is no going back. The sense of satisfaction and general organisation cannot be adequately overstated, either.

Like so many things, this should have been done years ago.

Round and Round

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Last week wasn’t meant to be a line in the sand, but ended up that way regardless. It means that starting today, there needs to be an awful lot of steps and exercise to maintain momentum.

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That top number’s not accurate either, by the end of yesterday I’d managed 22k steps. Today I’m planning to walk to the Gym after lunch, do an hour of weights then come back, with an hour of cycling¬†in the evening. I start with my new PT on Thursday so it would be useful to look as if there’s an effort being made before then. Most importantly of all, my arm’s now at a stage where exercise is simply an inconvenience and not either painful or an effort.

It is time to get working.

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That first week was when the old drugs were switched for new and body was just exhausted. After that, there has been a slow and steady increase in both effort and ability. I don’t think 12k steps a day is at all unrealistic. I’m not sure 23k a day is doable if there has to be work involved, but that’s a decent point to aim for. There’s half a plan to leave my car in the Gym car park after dropping off my daughter each day next week, exercising and then walking home, before coming back to pick it up for the return School Run.

I doubt anyone would notice that if I did.

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Right, I need to be exercising and now writing now.

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This will be the third year I’ve been taken to Christmas Dinner at this particular gastropub. It used to be my local back in the early 1980’s, when I’d go to school a couple of miles down the road. Far enough off the beaten track to be worth the trip, in the days before you went to the pub for a meal. Now, it’s one of only a handful of Essex pubs that make the Good Food handbooks. The last two Christmas Meals have been impressive but this year, they excelled themselves.

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I’ve never liked ‘proper’ Christmas dinner, and knowing I have a calorie limit to deal with I decided I’d go high protein. The terrine was worth the trip alone: I know lots of you people are vegetarians (and I do go meat free now more often than I used to) but honestly, the combination of pear chutney with gamy richness was… frankly mind blowing. You got a tiny slice of sour-dough which I thought might blight enjoyment but nope, just the right amount. I’m also really glad I only drank water all night because I feel alcohol would have made me lose all the subtlety in flavour.

I’ve never eaten pheasant before and I could have eaten double of what was presented: it was served on a parsnip mash which went brilliantly with the long, elongated strip of squash and the wild mushrooms which were just… unlike anything I’d ever tasted before and all the more amazing for it. Portion wise it was practically perfect too… even though I could have done it all over again, I feel my trainer would have been happy with the balance and the fact there was no alcohol sullying the experience.

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The only issue, amazingly, was dessert. The pear tart was far too heavy, almost stodgy, cinnamon and almond completely lost in both custard and ice-cream as accompaniments (I ended up passing that onto Mr Alt.) There was none of the care or delicacy of the previous courses, and it took a lot of water and two cups of green tea to restore some sanity to my system. It reinforces the point that now I don’t eat sweet stuff nearly as much as was the case, when it is badly done those efforts become all the more jarring to the taste-buds. What I’d hoped would be refined and smart ended up as cloying and restrictive, but was fortunately not enough to destroy the brilliance of the other two courses.

Last night was also a triumph for the concept of mindful eating. I was really hungry on arrival, genuinely anticipating the food, and when it arrived there was no desire to just tear through each course or focus on the alcohol instead. Mouthfuls were appreciated, flavour and texture, the way my mind reacted to new tastes. It became as much about the process as the food itself, and a long conversation resulted on how perhaps Mr Alt and I should go out and enjoy food more than we do, as a couple. I’d really like to do that, and expand my mind more. It wouldn’t be to say I’d been to places, but instead to challenge myself to eat more than the stuff I’m used to, whilst reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to do this to begin with.

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This morning, I could do with about another six hours sleep: I have a few things left to do and then Christmas is sorted.

This is the most organised I have ever been, and it is brilliant :D

Magic Bus

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For the second day in a row, I’ve hit my step goal before lunchtime. There wasn’t a plan to do this per se, just the way by which life has worked out since the end of the Weekend. There’s a lot of real life going on right now too, because I’ve gotten to the point where self care needs to be more important than putting stuff off. That means hand cream, and teeth X Rays and eye tests in the next two weeks. It also means pushing myself in ways I’d not thought about for a while: an hour on the treadmill this morning was incredibly hard post Monday’s absolutely knackering PT, but I won. It all happened.

Inside, it is as if I have become someone new.

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I’ve been deeply affected by reading Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy… well, I’ve only just finished Book Two but honestly, mind is unbelievably blown. I love it when I end up with more questions than answers in fiction, and need to read the first two books again to make sure I know what really went on. As a result of this mental stimulation there have been some amazing dreams over the last few days, which have had some unexpected physical hangovers to reality. Considering I’m working on six hours sleep today brain should be dead, and yet I feel incredibly alive.

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Yesterday was hugely productive too: if I can knock off the four things on the To Do List today in good time I’ll be beyond pleased. I also treated myself to something at lunch I would not have dared eaten previously pre-gallbladder removal. If it sits happily in my digestive system, I’m taking this as a sign that I can eat a bit more than was previously the case (and off limits.)

Right then, lets go get all this other stuff knocked off so I can spend the evening dicking about online.

Audacity of Huge

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It’s a new month. I’m a bit behind, but not hugely so (which is progress in itself) and once I have caught up today (which I will) there’s an entire month of important and groundbreaking stuff from me. A list was written at the start of the year, and although some of it has not yet taken place, an¬†awful lot of change and improvement has come to pass.

I started an Instagram from scratch for this Project. I’m hoping my artwork will attract an audience because that is what this will be for the next 31 days: art based around poetry.¬†I have no illusions either, but as I’m doing this right now completely for my own enjoyment and satisfaction? It doesn’t matter. It starts a process of using visual media in different ways. That’s October’s plan: push the envelope. Produce original work and escape the current comfort zone. There are still a few glitches along the way to overcome, but we’ll cover those too.

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I’m still not a poet, but the role is becoming easier to wear as time goes on. My main focus remains on fiction, and on that front, I announced yesterday my formal participation in NaNoWriMo this year. However, I’m yet to commit to the piece I’m working on. That’s causing a bit of concern, but there is now a distinct lean towards doing things ‘properly’ and planning an original idea from scratch.¬†I’ve given myself a deadline of Friday to commit, one way or the other.

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I’m effectively using November to write, and blogging will pretty much completely¬†encompass this process on the Writing Site.¬†I’ve cancelled my Patreon output to accommodate this and will spend the month redesigning the ‘idea’ of IoW: when I began the journey, I considered poetry as something of an afterthought. This month I’ll be entering The Poetry Society’s official contest for the form. There’s a place I never thought I’d ever reach, and the next stage in my writing journey is short stories. This month’s offering is a forced and radical departure from previous attempts, for that very reason. You never learn by simply doing the same thing, over and over.

This month, many comfort zones will be blown.

No Surprises

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Eight hours sleep is GLORIOUS.

The problems don’t go away after a good night. You just have more energy and desire to solve them.

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450 days of My Fitness Pal and it is only in the last two weeks that the process is bearing fruit. It is a sobering reminder that it doesn’t matter how long something happens, there’s only ever a difference made when application comes into play. Getting down to a target weight and staying there asks a lot of you, and it is easy to see after a hard day where the slip ups can come. Last night, I’ll be honest, ended up 15g over my fat goal with Breakfast Cups for dinner but boy, did I need them. Low carbs and sugar is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It has been an absolute revelation staring at food that I’d normally eat and realising just how much sugar is in just about everything.

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Knowing which basic foods are bad is not a problem: avoid starchy stuff, white rice is not great, white flour is the Devil’s work. The hope, of course, is that you end up in the ‘healthy eating’ aisle of the Supermarket where everything is 40% more expensive under the auspices of ‘balanced.’ Except, if you look closely, that’s often a lie too. We’ve already had the discussion about sugar in ‘whole food’ bars, and the alternatives I’ve discovered fall into two distinct camps: ridiculously expensive and essentially soulless or eating raw. I’ve therefore gained massive amounts of satisfaction in the last two days taking whole pomegranate and separating out seeds, saving a small fortune and pointless packaging. The future is doing it myself, if I wasn’t already grasping the truth.

Then, I remind myself I didn’t exercise yesterday. That was no bad thing, all told, and there’s energy in my legs plus determination in upper body to go do good work. I had an omelette at the Gym on Monday, as opposed to my normal order of flatbread and today I suspect I’ll do some kind of salad to at least keep up the pretence of vegetables. I’m not going to lie, all I want right now is cake and tea and bread and butter pudding until I’m full. I get how this works. However, if I’m going to break my body’s desire to not lose weight, something has to give.

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I don’t need a Treat day any more. I’m not looking forward to that bar of well-deserved chocolate or the slice of cake, because as soon as they are ingested my body swells. It is impossible to guilt free eat ANYTHING sugary right now, and that may be the case until my hormones finally leave for good. Knowing this, I am simply determined to keep going, not look back and run my way out of the craving. Most days, as it transpires, that works surprisingly well.

Let’s see if today is one of them.

Yesterday

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I live in Gym kit currently for one reason alone: if I have it on, there’s more chance of making it to exercise than not. Except yesterday I put on the clothes and then grasped I’d be better off not pushing myself physically. It was a day to clear the decks, throw out the rubbish that has been clogging my desk. Things got put away, or recycled, and we entered the Money Where Mouth Is portion of developmental proceedings. As an exercise in self control and diligence, it was remarkably successful. I don’t remember the last time I was this organised, and it has helped considerably in motivating brain to start this week the way I mean to go on.

Now, the trick has to be sticking to that plan: the Moleskine is full, not simply with written work. I gave up on bullet journaling sometime in April, but the weekly planner has now become indispensable. Exercise goals, writing subjects, forward planning is all inside, and the settling of this routine becomes more comforting with every new week. I actually started doing that on Friday, knowing what needs to be done for the Internet of Words before it all kicks off on Saturday. Thus far I am quietly confident, and hopefully once there’s some content up to entice people, I’ll grab some more Patreons. That reminds me, must sort out a Google Form for the rewards requests. Excuse me whilst I make a note of that.

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This week is another two lots of PT with a hard third session shoved in the middle. If six hours sleep is gonna be the norm again thanks to night sweats and the neighbour (who has a 5am start and is not quiet) then I may not make it to Friday without a nap inserted somewhere, or at least one ridiculously early night. The week will at least be cooler and a bit wet, which suits me fine: I really hope this is the last of the hormonal junk I have to deal with. It is bad enough in the heat without my body taking a temperature rise on an almost predictable four hour cycle. There is however the real chance this is the next 18 months to two years of my life panning out and if so, it might be a plan to just stop moaning and work through it. If I were famous I could write a book about it or maybe do stand up, but as I’m not? Time to stick the kettle on and accept the inevitable.

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I’ve been eaten a lot by insects in this last couple of weeks too, which means my legs look horrible, and as I scratch in my sleep I felt today was not the one for shorts. I’ve resurrected one of my favourite pairs of leggings, and this reminds me I should have a clear out of clothing (again) as a lot of stuff is now close to being worn out, due simply to repeated use. My running shoes went that way last weekend, 25 miles of cycling the last straw, and looking at the soles the wear on the tread is a reminder that yes, I do take this all very seriously indeed, as should be the case. That will be the second pair I’ve worn out this year, and knowing that fact I’ve ordered the replacement pair this morning on sale, saving cash in advance. Ah, the joys of Internet shopping.

The Warcraft blog’s got material already scheduled for the entire week. I’m not sure yet what is going to happen here, but I promise to try and make it worth your while reading.